We flew to Cairns the next day and with no uber option, took a cab to the hotel for AUD35. Our hotel, the Shangri-la, was right on the boardwalk and across the esplanade. An older hotel, it was still very clean and spacious with proximity to the helipad and marina for the Great Barrier Reef tours.
It is important to book the tours well ahead of time as it fills up quickly. We decided on the half day, fly in, cruise back option with GBR Helicopters and Reef Magic, which takes you to Moore Reef. For the half day excursion that includes the pontoon, it costs AUD464.
The pontoon is a platform situated out by the reef and offers plenty of activities for you to enjoy the reef – perfect for those not wanting to go in the water. There are the options of either a semi submersible or glass boat that gives you different views of the reef. Both are free and included with the tour, just make sure to check the times that it departs.
The package also includes a buffet lunch, although you should not expect too much from it as the food was mediocre.
The trip to Cairns simply for the reef was well worth it and is something that everyone needs to tick off their bucket list!
Upon returning to the hotel and getting some rest, we hit the town and decided to try Ganbaranba, a ramen place and one of the top rated restaurants on Trip Advisor. We tried the gyoza and a couple different ramens and stuck to the basics. The food was good but nothing special and not worth the almost thirty minute wait. The service was fast and the food served promptly which makes the place a safe choice.